Mary, Model Discerner

As mentioned earlier, when we discern we pay special attention to where we are at the present moment. We don’t begin our discernment from where we’d like to be, or from unrealistic expectations, but from where we are right now.

Because who we are and where we are has been shaped by the past, we also prayed with our past—with significant moments in our lives that have shaped us as persons, and with significant moments of grace in our lives. We may need to continue to pray about significant moments in our lives, but as we go forward in our discernment, it is time to bring all of who we are, here and now—the present—to prayer. In the past two months, we been reflecting on cultivating a listening attitude in our daily life, listening intently intently to God speaking to us through:

  • our prayer
  • our deep desires
  • our relationships
  • our conversations with others
  • our current situation
  • the Church
  • the needs of the world.

But we face any number of obstacles in this deeper listening. In the next few posts, we’ll look at some of those obstacles that can “stump” us or detour us on our discernment journey, and how we can respond to or overcome these obstacles.

The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1898.

The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1898.

Our first response in facing any obstacle on our discernment journey (or our spiritual journey) is to entrust our spiritual lives and any special intentions to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. This is especially true for our discernment. Mary is the disciple who most faithfully listened to and responded to God’s invitations in her life, and she wants to accompany us as we seek to do the same.  The Founder of the Daughters of Saint Paul, Blessed James Alberione, used to say, “Mary is the way to go to Jesus, the easiest way.” Mary wants to draw us closer to her Son, so we can ask her in a very particular way to accompany us throughout the rest of our discernment, and ultimately, the rest of our lives as we seek to live God’s call in fidelity as she did.

Suggestion for Prayer

The Angelus is a beautiful and rich prayer that is so helpful for discerners, as it helps us to recall the moment when Mary received and responded with her generous “yes” to God’s call. Traditionally, the Angelus is prayed three times a day—morning, noon, and evening. Make time today to pray the Angelus at least once today. (If you aren’t familiar with this beautiful prayer, you can pray it with this lovely music version:

You can also find the Angelus in almost any Catholic prayer book. Once you have been praying the Angelus for a while, you may enjoy meditating on a beautiful work of art depicting the Annunciation while you are praying:


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